Unions call on Barnett Government to abandon sale of Western Power as voters reject privatisation

Thursday 07 Jul 2016

Unions representing thousands of workers in WA’s electricity system have welcomed comments to the ABC today by Premier Barnett that he did not believe the WA public supported the proposal to sell off Western Power, and called on him to abandon plans for its privatisation. 

The Australian Services Union (ASU) and Electrical Trades Union (ETU) joined forces in 2014 to campaign against the privatisation of WA’s electricity network.   The two unions believe that privatisation will lead to higher prices, poorer quality services, increased bushfire risk and fewer jobs and apprenticeships.

ETU WA Branch Secretary Les McLaughlan said results from the weekend’s Federal election had sent a clear message to the Barnett Government about WA voter’s opposition to the sale of public assets.

“The Turnbull Government’s Medicare privatisation agenda was brought to the attention of Western Australian’s on the front page of our daily newspaper in February, with its future front and centre during the election campaign.

“If July 2nd was a referendum on Medicare, it was a clear result in favour of Labor and saving Medicare.”

Mr McLaughlan said that privatisation had again proven to be toxic at the ballot box, with the electorate rejecting yet another government’s privatisation agenda.

“Across the country, we’ve seen State elections reflect the same result. Campbell Newman met a historic one-term defeat in 2015 campaigning on a platform of privatisation.

“Mike Baird’s plan to lease 49 per cent of electrical poles and wires businesses to the private sector for 99 years saw his government lose 14 seats in last year’s NSW election.  

“And, despite numerous polls showing the WA public oppose privatisation, Colin Barnett and the WA Liberals are still planning to take a policy to privatise Western Power and Horizon Power to next year’s state election.” he said.

ASU Branch Secretary Wayne Wood said that Western Australian’s had spoken loud and clear, had voted to protect Medicare, and were sending the same message to the Barnett Government about the sale of Western Power.

“WA voters understand that selling Western Power will mean higher electricity prices, cuts to jobs and apprenticeships, and an increased risk of bushfire from reduced preventative maintenance.

“Surely by now Colin Barnett has got the message that voters don’t support privatisation.

“I call on Premier Barnett not to cave into the pressure from the Treasurer Dr Nahan, but to listen to the very clear message from WA voters and abandon the sale of Western Power."